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S. Korea opts to expand range of missiles

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WASHINGTON – The government of South Korea has made a decision to pull out of the Missile Technology Control Regime, which will allow it to make missiles that can reach all of North Korea, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

And it is being done with the quiet acquiescence of the United States.

The decision comes as North Korea has its own missiles capable of reaching all of South Korea.

“These revisions are a prudent, proportional and specific response to the DPRK (North Korea’s) ballistic missile threat,” a Pentagon spokesman recently said.

Under the previous agreement with the U.S., South Korea will be allowed to develop missiles capable of traveling some 500 miles, which can reach all of North Korea but won’t pose a threat to either China or Japan. In addition, it will be allowed to carry a warhead up of up to 1,100 pounds.

However, it will be allowed now to develop drones or cruise missiles that can carry a 2.5-ton payload of equipment and weapons, even though they are not as fast as ballistic missiles and are more easily intercepted. Restrictions on ballistic missiles do not apply to South Korea’s development of cruise missiles.

In this regard, South Korea has developed the Hyunmoo-3 cruise missile capable of hitting all of North Korea with a range up to 1,500 kilometers, or some 932 miles. Until now, South Korea was limited under the MTCR to missiles with a range of no more 186 miles and a payload of no more than half a ton.

The change is designed “to prevent North Korea’s military provocations,” said Chun Yung-woo, who is chief national security adviser to President Lee Myung-bak.

Shin Won-shik, a senior policymaker at the Defense Ministry, said that the 500-mile limit was imposed to avoid any misunderstand with China or Japan.

He said, however, that South Korea would not be joining a proposed U.S. missile defense program which is designed to respond to regional concerns over China’s missiles.

Under U.S. pressure years ago, South Korea also decided not to develop nuclear weapons. With quiet U.S. agreement to allow South Korea to go ahead and develop missiles capable of reaching all of North Korea, will the U.S. now stand aside if South Korea decides to resume making a nuclear weapon, which it is capable of producing?

And what will this mean to a continued U.S. presence on the Korean Peninsula, since that presence was to provide the protection the South Koreans needed if they stood down from developing longer range missiles and nuclear weapons?

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